What happens if we adopt a more modest lifestyle?

Would it cause our disposable, fast food, instant gratification economic engine to sputter and die? Or would it cause a transformation in buying habits which would bring about new relationships between consumers and those companies which were able to rise to the occasion?

Suppose that our available income were to be cut to a mere trickle compared to last years income. Wouldn’t that make every purchase more significant and every bargain more rewarding?

What about those expenses that we can no longer justify. What happens when we reduce our food budgets and our entertainment budgets and put off buying new clothes.

Perhaps we start getting satisfaction from planning and making do with what we have or from bartering with others to exchange what we do not need for something we really need.

I think that the best only way to approach this situation of supporting your family on less money is to make a game out of it. Locating bargains and using discount coupons may be absolutely necessary, but these situations can be viewed either as a degrading and undignified imposition or as a challenge to be overcome with skill and good nature.

If you are still stuck in your former high-flying corporate lifestyle, you will be carrying a double burden when it comes to supporting yourself after your unemployment runs out.

Those who can adapt to the lifestyle they find themselves in will probably be more successful in changing it for the better when the opportunity arises.

Is life any poorer when you are not going out for meals every day? I don’t believe so, because in the distant past I used to go out for meals because I was bored or didn’t have time to prepare meals at home. Now I eat at home and enjoy cooking meals occasionally and helping in the kitchen.

There is a real sense of achievement when we adjust our spending to match our income. It is not a trivial matter and it involves hard choices. We can either focus on the "sacrifices" we are making or focus on the upside which is that we are paying as we go and we can take satisfaction in every action that we take to make our lives better.

Possibly the future may hold out the promise that reader Mouse suggests:

I am hopeful that our current economic troubled waters will have some positive effects, that people will learn to be happier with a more modest lifestyle, that some kind of common sense returns to the world of rampant consumerism.

I hope so too. I am working on that approach to life right now. I think it is the best response to the situation we find ourselves in.

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0 Responses to What happens if we adopt a more modest lifestyle?

  1. Mouse says:

    Lovely post and very timely. Though actually I hope that we can continue to consume less even when/if the ‘good times’ return. The people of the west take far too much of the planet’s resources at the expense of the rest of the world and future generations. Let’s hope that kindness, compassion and a renewed spirituality fill the void left by our dimninishing bank balances, we will all be the wealtier for it

  2. I’m with you on this. I have started to make it more of a game and it’s actually fun to see how I can do with less, find a better deal or make something I don’t use any more work for some other function. Just have to be more creative in these times I think!

  3. Linda says:

    I so agree with your post. Consumerism and lifestyles on many levels had gotten out of hand. My real concern is for those of us at the lower end of the stick who already were living at a frugal level and have very few areas left to cut back. For many of those folks it will mean skipping meals and meds, parking the car, pulling plugs, shutting down the water heater and furnace. I hope our economic ship sails out of the storm soon.

  4. I am playing that game, too, and poking some fun at myself along the way. Anyone who knows me knows I love good coffee. “Grinding the beans,” seeing the oily sheen to tell me they are fresh, all a big deal to me. Well, ha! I recently discovered good old Maxwell House. It was in a house we rented for a few days in Maine. I figured it would taste awful, but decided to try it. Boy, have I been a dummy. It was terrific. Now it’s my brand. The medium dark French Roast or South Pacific blend are my favorites. Got them at Winn Dixie for $5.99 (that’s about $.18 per ounce vs. the $.81 per ounce I used to pay).

    (Mary Beth’s frugal tip for the day!)

  5. trudy says:

    Growing up in rural Maine we had to learn frugality.It has served me well.
    Craigslist has wonderful items listed all the time and yes you need to be careful but $75 vs $1000 for a couch is great.
    Freecycle is also a good way to get things or pass yours on to help someone else.
    Oh and thanks Mom for letting me learn to cook!

  6. Christine Brownlie says:

    I was raised to live below my means and while I won’t say that I pinch every penny until it squeals, I do try to make the most of the money I have.

    But I’m aware that every action I take affects people far beyond my own small circle. As a friend likes to point out, every action creates a reaction. So what is the reaction to a frugal life?

    The first is a loss of jobs. We have become a consumer-based economy and the drop in shopping is going to have a negative impact on all those people who are involved in producing, transporting, and delivering the goods we’ve been buying. Where are the new jobs for these folks to move into? What happens to the tax base of our communities that pays for the teachers, police, firefighters, libraries, etc? How about workers in other countries who would be affected?

    My point is not that we should continue overspend on stuff we don’t need. But we need to be mindful and creative about how we approach the economic reforms that we must make. It is a very small world and we touch other lives in ways that we can’t imagine.

    Happy Thanksgiving to All!

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